Cults, Fishnets and FBI: David Carradine Case Veers Off the Rails


In the vast annals of notorious Hollywood deaths, few cases are likely to supersede David Carradine's when it's all said and done. That is, if it's ever all said done; a weekend's worth of details, rumors, conspiracy theories and one particularly tasteless photo leak have resulted in mass confusion between family, fans and investigators on two continents. Let's get caught up after the jump.

When we left off Friday, Thai police validated speculation that Carradine may have perished "from masturbation" -- or, specifically, in an act of autoerotic asphyxiation that followed having strung up his neck and genitals in a hotel room in Bangkok. That still didn't quite explain how he wound up hanging in an armoire, but Thai investigators essentially ruled out the possibility of foul play after interviewing hotel staff and reviewing surveillance footage of the corridors near Carradine's room.

By that time, the Carradine family (which had insisted from the start that David would not commit suicide) had recruited hotshot lawyer Mark Geragos and superstar forensic pathologist Michael Baden to work the investigation on its behalf. As usual, Geragos would handle the media, starting Friday night in a fascinating series of segments on Larry King Live. Joined by Carradine's manager Chuck Binder, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Extra's Jerry Penacoli, the attorney noted that the family had approached the FBI to intervene in Thailand. And if they needed a point of entry in the investigation, Penacoli offered some dirt from the set of one of Carradine's last films:

PENACOLI: I spoke to [the director] at length today. And he said that he also believes that there was foul play. And he said that no one else knows this but his family -- Carradine's family and friends and people closest to him, but David was very interested in investigating and disclosing secret societies. So whatever that means...

GERAGOS: Which is absolutely -- well, what that means is connected to martial arts and his interest in martial arts. And so there is a suspicion that if there was some foul play, that that may be the first area where they should look.


Flimsy, right? Maybe, maybe not: On Saturday morning a Bangkok tabloid called Thai Rath published a leaked, blurry photo of Carradine's body at the crime scene, featuring the actor bound in a way that implicated a second party of some kind. The family (and pretty much everyone else) was outraged, citing invasion-of-privacy grounds and threatening to sic Geragos on any publication that re-ran the image.

Only one Stateside site has rolled those dice (running a picture of the tabloid's front page), but you won't find a link here, sorry. As of Sunday night the gruesome image was still live, and it's easy enough to find if you must. Let it suffice to say that if this wasn't foul play, then it was perhaps some kind of consensual exchange gone horribly wrong; TMZ says it has a higher-resolution copy of the photo which features the actor bound with "fishnet stockings covering the body" and red lingerie on the bed. He may be wearing a wig as well. Oy.

One of Carradine's ex-wives (not the one whose divorce filing cited "potentially deadly" sexual behavior) corroborated his interest in bondage, telling the NY Daily News, "David was pretty strange. He would tie himself up, and I would walk in and see him and say, 'Oh, my God, David, you've got to be kidding me.' "

Embarrassed Thai investigators, meanwhile, who had vaguely rebuffed the FBI's initial overtures, had little choice today but to welcome the bureau into their jurisdiction. Results of an autopsy performed Friday in Bangkok aren't expected for at least another three weeks, but Baden is expected to conduct one of his own once Carradine's body reaches Los Angeles some time early this week. More news as it becomes available, or when I get out of a thorough scrub-down in the shower, whichever comes first.


  • Juancho says:

    STV, ask Lisanti for the recipe for the bleach martini, it'll clear out those pesky shards of the thoughts we all don't want to have.

  • Kittenhead says:

    Horrible. And thanks for not running the photo or any link thereto. You folks are already a damn sight classier than your former wretched overlords at Gawker.

  • Lisa says:

    Check out "David Carradine: The Eye of My Tornado", a new book commemorating the late Grasshopper. I found it on Amazon.